As parents, it’s our job to protect our kids, so walking through the house imagining potential dangers is something most would prefer to avoid. But, there comes a time, hopefully before your little bundle is delivered, to start baby-proofing your living space. Of course, they won’t be getting into cabinets as soon as they arrive, but you WILL be amazed at how quickly that day comes. So, to help yourself, make some safety updates now, before your arms are full of your tiny boss.
Right now, your cleaners are probably stashed under your sink, on a closet shelf, or on the counter. Before you just stick stuff up high and forget about it, consider how much busier the days ahead are going to be as a new parent. A simple way to get started is to take stock of the cleaning supplies you have on hand, do a little organizing, and choose where or how you’ll store them. Here are 10 tips to help you get the job done sooner than later.
1. Up high but not out of reach.
Don’t underestimate the climbing skills of a determined toddler. They’re better and faster than a magician when they put their mind to it. Everything new is already a challenge to them, so getting into the basket of interesting-looking bottles on top of the fridge is more like an invitation than an obstacle. Plus, remember, kiddos watch the adults to learn about the world around them. They see you handle these things, and they want to get their sticky little fingers on them too. So, putting cleaning supplies up high is a short-term fix. But they may be accessible if they’re in view and not locked away once your LO is mobile.
2. See your cleaning products through the eyes of your kid.
Pine-smelling floor cleaner looks like apple juice. Bleach can look like milk. Clear disinfectants like water. You get where we’re going here. Colorful bottles are eye-catching, and spray nozzles look fun to play with. If not for any other reason, stashing cleaners and supplies out of sight from your little explorer helps prevent some of the temptation.
3. Read the labels.
Know what you’ve got in the house already that’s dangerous for kids. If a product contains harmful chemicals, you need to safely store it away. When the label mentions one or more of the following words, that’s your cue to keep it away from baby:
4. Look for child-resistant lids on bottles and boxes.
This gives you an added layer of protection. Just remember child-resistant doesn’t always mean childproof, so these too, need to be stored away from baby.
5. Keep all cleaning products and supplies out of sight.
The less your LO can see, the better. If you place your products in a linen or storage closet, try to put the supplies on shelves where your mini-me can’t reach them. Install a child-proof doorknob cover to stop them from getting access. If you have lever handles, you can get specially made locks. Another alternative to keeping a closet or room off-limits is a top of door lock.
6. Lock up cabinets.
If you store cleaning supplies in under-the-sink cabinets, install childproof locks or latches. There are a variety of locks to choose from, such as a magnetic locking system. Keep in mind, even if you empty out a cabinet or drawer of dangerous cleaners, chemical smells may stay behind and can be harmful to kids that try to play inside.
7. Be just as careful with empty bottles and supplies you’re tossing.
Just because the liquid in a container may be gone, drips that remain, or fumes can be toxic. Playing with a sponge or cloth that’s absorbed a chemical solution can be dangerous if it ends up in your tot’s mouth, or may irritate their sensitive skin. When you’re done cleaning, get rid of paper towels and rags that touched the cleaning chemicals. Dispose of these supplies in a closed container or bag and put them directly into a recycling bin, garbage chute, or dumpster outside your home.
8. Keep laundry detergents away from LO.
Make sure your observant little helper can’t get into the laundry supplies. The powder, liquid, or packets of soap are harmful if ingested.
9. Make the most of limited storage space.
Store brooms and mops, dustpans behind closed, locked doors. You can use hooks and spring clamps to hang them. Use over-the-door storage racks with narrow shelves or hang a shoe bag with clear pockets to organize supplies and keep them locked away. To make more space in a cabinet, you can install a towel bar or tension rod to hang spray bottles.
10. Never leave a cleaning product and your tiny VIP alone together.
If you’re cleaning and need to leave the room, even just for a second, take one or the other with you. We repeat: parents should never underestimate the ninja skills of their LO.
*In case of an emergency, have this info visible and in a convenient location.
National Poison Control, 1-800-222-1222
The nearest hospital
Your family doctor